Novak Djokovic – From Champ To Challenger

by Calvin Hill @calv_hill

This decade’s most terrorising force in tennis is no more. The once almost unbeatable Novak Djokovic is now very beatable.

 

Who is this new Djokovic?

The fire in Djokovic’s belly has been extinguished by his own doubt, it seems not even a nuclear missile can reignite the flame. A slurry of abysmal performances have tormented Djokovic since the start of the 2017 season; he’s yet to find the answer to his struggles… or the coaching situation. Since Becker parted ways with the Serb in 2016, Djokovic has altered his coaching team more often than Federer has had losses this season. It’s a dizzying statistic that illustrates how the tennis Goliath has fallen from his perch.

Perspective asks for a few statistics that illuminate exactly how far Novak has fallen from grace.

 

Don’t forget just how dominant he was

In 2015, Djokovic had one of the single greatest tennis seasons ever recorded on the ATP Tour. He won 3 Grand Slams and an unprecedented six Masters 1000 tournaments. He reached 15 consecutive finals, earning an 82-6 win/loss ratio and subjecting misery upon the Big Four by stamping down a 15-4 record. Fast-forward two years and the scene is unrecognizable. Djokovic’s win/loss ratio for 2017 and 2018 has been a combined 42-15 thus far. Novak’s once Hulk like inhabitance on the tour has been avenged and sketched into the pages of history.

Before his downfall to Andy Murray in the second half of 2016, Novak had gripped onto the No.1 ranking on and off since his volcanic rise in 2011. With the Fedal Era fading into nonexistence, Djokovic had rightfully earned the honour of tennis’ new poster boy.

 

He was no Djoke on clay

Djokovic has been a polarising force on the red dirt for several years, by successfully defeating the Spanish del Toro on 7 occasions on Nadal’s favoured surface.

In 2018, Djokovic’s dusty red bubble has evidently been burst. A swarm of valiant young thoroughbreds have pounced and excavated Novak from Monté Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid all before the fourth round. Djokovic failed to defend his 600 ranking points at last weeks Rome Masters by succumbing to the might of his titanic arch-nemesis Nadal in a highly anticipated blockbuster semifinal match. His world ranking has fallen into the twenties by unsuccessfully kickstarting a comeback under the Italian sun. Threats still litter Djokovic’s comeback campaign, however, as he has a further 360 points to defend at Roland Garros due to his quarterfinal appearance last year. An early loss here would catapult Novak into an even darker tennis abyss.

 

There is still plenty of hope for a comeback

The season is still very young however with plenty of matches left to play. The remainder of the clay season looms large with Roland Garros briskly approaching next week, the preened lawns await in less than a month and the hard-court swing isn’t too far from grasp either. This should have Djokovic fans frothing at their mouths as Novak is arguably the greatest hard-court player ever to grace the courts.

He has the highest win percentage of any player on the surface by winning 83.9% of his matches. Another shred of hope for camp Djokovic lies within his own 2017 shortcomings. As Novak cut his season in half after his loss to Berdych in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, he doesn’t have any ranking points to defend. Every match won after Wimbledon this year equates to ranking points in Djokovic’s pocket. All hope is not lost.

The light at the end of Djokovic’s perilous tunnel isn’t getting any brighter, however. He needs to instantaneously speed up his comeback in order to survive in this ever-changing tennis galaxy or he may slip into retirement with an anti-climactic run of form. He has a big chance to make a splash at the French Open which is starting now.

What statement will Djokovic make on the clay of Roland Garros?

  • Calvin brings THE SLICE from Scotland.

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